On a road of hope

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:32 AM ET

CHARLOTTE -- Maybe the Raptors should ask the NBA to schedule all of their games on the road.

Away from the Air Canada Centre recently, the Raptors actually aren't that bad.

With the ever-improving Chris Bosh leading the way, the Raptors (4-17) won their third road game in the past eight days last night, beating the struggling Charlotte Bobcats 111-103 before 15,163 at spacious new Charlotte Bobcats Arena.

"We're more on edge and we know we have little room for error on the road," said the dominant Bosh, who had a season-high 30 points and 11 rebounds for his 12th double-double of the season. "It's just a psychological thing right now."

The Raptors, who coughed up a 77-65 third-quarter lead but landed the final punch for the victory, have won three of their past four road games, with the lone defeat coming in overtime against the Washington Wizards. The Bobcats (5-16) have lost seven games in a row.

Bosh saved his best for last, scoring 10 points in the fourth quarter after coach Sam Mitchell told him at halftime to be aggressive instead of settling for jump shots.

The Raptors scored, either a basket or a free throw, on each of their final 13 possessions. Two of those key baskets came on passes from Bosh to Morris Peterson and Charlie Villanueva.

"I ain't going to lie, Chris Bosh carried us," Peterson said. "He played like an all-star. Chris is really starting to come into his own. Everybody knows he can score and rebound. Now he's realizing when he gets double teamed and makes the pass out. It's going to make it easier for him."

With Bobcats star power forward Emeka Okafor forced out in the third quarter with a sprained big right toe and centre Melvin Ely out with flu symptoms, conditions were favourable for Bosh. But good players take advantage of opportunities and there is no doubt Bosh is a good one.

"He can do everything and that is the type of big you'd like to have," Bobcats rookie forward Sean May said. "(He is a guy) who can step out and shoot, pass the ball and be a very unselfish player. One of those laid-back Tim Duncan types that doesn't really say much but gets the job done."

Mike James added 22 points for the Raptors, while Brevin Knight led the Bobcats with 22.

The Bobcats regained their energy at the end of the third quarter and took charge in the fourth, going on an 11-2 run to open the quarter to take a brief 83-81 lead. The Bobcats did their damage on the boards at the offensive end, never giving up on a ball to give themselves extra chances.

But the Raptors, who outscored the Bobcats 29-19 in a big third quarter, made more plays in crunch time.

With a three-game homestand coming up -- starting Wednesday against the Chicago Bulls -- the Raptors need to find a way to overcome their ACC woes. They are 1-9 at home this season.

"When we're on the road, it's just a mindset of all of us coming together," Peterson said. "When we're at home, we kind of don't bring that same energy. It should be opposite."

REPORT CARD

B Offence: They didn't shoot the ball well at times, but, hey, the Raptors elevated their game down the stretch for a 32-point fourth quarter.

C+ Defence: While the Bobcats controlled the offensive glass at times, the Raptors made enough stops to win.


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